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Waheed Odusile: Be a man Jonathan, own up

GEJA colleague told me recently that he met repentant Niger Delta militant Asari Dokubo in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during last year’s or 2011 hajj operation (can’t remember which year now) and their discussion naturally veered into politics and the comrade was at his vintage best.

Dokubo he said wasn’t happy with what he perceived as the discriminatory way Muslims from the north treat their southern counterparts and would therefore not go to the north in the run up to the 2015 presidential election to campaign to them on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan. He would rather do his campaign for the president in the south and leave others to handle the north.

While one is not in a position to verify the alleged position of El Hadj Asari Dokubo on northern Muslims, one can safely say at this moment that the man is not likely to campaign for Jonathan’s 2015 presidential project anywhere in Nigeria or even outside. He is simply fed up with the lackluster performance of the president and he has in all intent and purpose told the man to count him out of his second (or is it third?) presidential bid and carry his own cross.

His grouse with the president is simple. Jonathan he opined has failed to live up to expectation and deliver on his promises. And he (Dokubo) an Ijaw man like Jonathan can not in good conscience go before the rest of Nigeria to canvass support for him for another term. What would he tell them or us?

Expectedly the President’s attack dogs saw Dokubo’s comment as an attempt to derail their principal’s fresh presidential bid and have spared no word in condemning the ex militant. They called it bad belle, that the man was annoyed that the president had refused to renew his multi-million-dollar security contract for the protection of oil pipelines in Rivers State against theft/vandalisation.

Recall that the presidency sometime ago discreetly awarded multi-million-dollar pipeline protection contracts to ex. Niger Delta militants covering the oil facilities in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers States and environs. Many, including this writer saw it as a nepotistic gesture on the part of Jonathan to settle his own people, buy their support and loyalty (for 2015) and reward criminality. The contracts to Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, Gens. Boyloaf and Tompolo were not made public by the government until a foreign news agency scooped on it and revealed the details to the world. In criticizing the deal then, one had argued that it was not likely to deter fresh attack by militants in the region on oil facilities there, as those outside the loop of beneficiaries would see any successful attack on the oil facilities as a way of telling the president that they also want a piece of the pie.

Recent pipeline attacks, oil thefts and piracy in Rivers and Bayelsa States have affirmed this position while the jury is still out on the success or otherwise of the contract awarded to Tompolo for pipeline protection in Delta State.

As an aside, it is good to note that Tompolo is carving a new image for himself by veering into humanitarianism using the money he made from militancy and the pipeline protection contract to set up a foundation to take care of the less privileged in the society.

If the pipeline protection contract was meant to shut Dokubo and co up and buy their loyalty, it failed and it remains to be seen whether the termination of his own contract was punishment for being critical of government or failure to secure the pipelines. What is clear however, is that the president is using a multi-prong approach to buy his way into the heart and mind of the society instead of working/warming his way into society through performance, to secure majority support from Nigerians for his 2015 project.

If Jonathan wants to re-contest in 2015 he is free to and he should be bold and man enough to say so instead of beating about the bush and looking for scapegoats among critics of his abysmal performance.

While he is denying interest in the next presidential election for now, it is no secret that he wants another shot at the presidency and his foot soldiers are already on the field trying to hoodwink us into buying a bad and failed product. It is in this light that one would want to view the half-hearted denial of any link to the Jonathan for 2015 posters now all over Abuja, by the presidency, as another of the character weaknesses of President Goodluck Jonathan. What is he afraid of? As the saying goes man dies only but once, but cowards die many times before their death.

It is a matter of yes or no for Nigerians in case he decides to throw his hat into the ring and the earlier he throws his hat in there or keep it with wife Patience the better, instead of accusing imaginary enemies of trying to distract his attention or derail his programmes with the Abuja posters and similar campaigns for his 2015 project currently being carried out through proxies.

From his first day in the White House, it was clear President Barack Obama was going to seek a second term barring any catastrophe and even when the US economy was wobbling and unemployment rising he was still able to convince his party and the rest of America that he remains the best man for the job. And they obliged him with a second term, but not without anything tangible to show as achievement. He was proud to point at his bailout package for the auto industry that saved millions of jobs and affirmed his commitment to strengthening the middle class, even as he vowed to extract more tax from the very wealthy Americans who constitute 2 per cent of the American society.

These with a combination of other factors including the killing of world renowned terrorist Osama bin Laden won him a second term even when the situation on ground economically was so grim that were the times to be different or his opponent Mitt Romney better, he would have been rejected.

Pray, as bad as things are in the country today, especially the deteriorating security situation, is there anything or a combination of things that Jonathan has done well for us to deserve another term even if he is entitled to it?

I am sure it is this fear of what do I tell them that is driving the man into using third parties to sell his second term ambition while publicly denying them. We know the trick Mr President, you don’t need to hide behind one finger. If truly you or your people are not behind the Abuja posters and similar subtle campaigns for your 2015 project why don’t you direct that the posters be put down or ignore them? Why are you labouring to convince us you knew nothing about the posters? Conventional wisdom dictates that when someone tries strenuously to convince the other person or a people about his own position, the likelihood of lies somewhere in the explanation should not be ruled out.

What has been lacking in Jonathan since fate put him at the helm first in Bayelsa State and now at the Presidential Villa in Abuja is a firm, strong and decisive character who knows his onions and ready to act at all times in the best interest of Nigeria and not given to nepotistic tendencies.

It’s been argued rightly or wrongly that part of the weaknesses of his character is his inability to rein in the alleged excesses of his Ijaw kinsmen both within and outside the government. Not that his predecessors were any better or his critics would behave differently in this regard, but because of his level of education Nigerians expect a much better performance from him.

One can go on and on pointing at his character flaws, but what we as Nigerians are not, as Jonathan probably thinks we are, is that we are no fools. We know where his going and we are waiting for him. And as we like to say here, he should not tell us a dog is a monkey.

 

- Waheed Odusile

Read original pieve via The Nation

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